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Series / Citizen Khan

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The main cast from Series 1-3

"Welcome to Sparkhill, Birmingham: the capitol of British Pakistan. They all know me! Like my suit? Number one! Citizen Khan!"
Opening Narration

Citizen Khan is a sitcom airing on BBC One. Created by, written by, and starring Adil Ray, the show is about the titular Mr. Khan, a self-styled 'community leader' within Sparkhill, Birmingham's Pakistani community. Episodes usually revolve around Mr. Khan attempting to throw his weight around, getting into trouble as a result, and trying to keep the fallout a secret from his wife.

This series provides examples of:

  • Berserk Button: Mentioning that Mr. Khan can't handle spicy foods guarantees that he'll start gobbling up the spiciest thing he can get his hands on and suffering as a result.
    • As a proud Pakistani, the mere mention of India will get Mr. Khan ranting and raving.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Although everybody speaks to her in English, and she appears to understand perfectly, Naani mostly speaks in unsubtitled Punjabi. Viewers can get the gist of what she's saying through the context of the conversations and the occasional English word she peppers into her lines.
    • Mr. Khan often exclaims "Oh, twadi!" whenever his lies and schemes start to fall apart.
    • He also shouts "Chup!" which means "Silence!" in both Hindi and Urdu whenever he wants to shut someone up.
    • Mrs. Khan curses in Urdu with no translations or subtitles provided. Mr. Khan's reactions imply that what she says is incredibly rude.
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  • Bilingual Dialogue: In Series 2 Naani spoke almost entirely in unsubtitled Punjabi (with the occasional bits of English to let viewers get the gist of what she was saying) while everyone else spoke to her in English. She started speaking in English in Series 3.
  • Butt-Monkey: Either Amjad or the two Daves, depending on who happens to be in Mr. Khan's vicinity at any given moment. Mr. Khan heaps scorn on the former for not being particularly manly and for wanting to marry his daughter while the latter two are on the receiving end of every 'ginger' joke in the book and for being (white) converts and not "real" Muslims.
    • Pretty much the entire cast is a Butt-Monkey to some extent, except maybe Alia, though that's probably because she spends most of her time away from the rest of the characters.
    • Keith becomes Mr. Khan's main butt monkey in Series 3.
  • Character Development: Some, even though Status Quo Is God most of the time.
    • Mrs. Khan decides to go to work and Mr. Khan takes on more household duties.
    • Amjad becomes a Police Community Support Officer in Series 3 and begins training to become a fully-qualified police officer in Series 4 and achieves that dream by Series 5.
    • Mrs. Khan and Shazia stopped covering their hair in public. Alia continues to do so in order to hide the fact she dyes her hair from her father.
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  • Characterization Marches On: Naani was originally a grumpy old woman who spoke mostly in Punjabi. Starting in Series 3, however, she started speaking exclusively in English and became a much more animated character with hints of a dirty sense of humor. Her rivalry with Mr. Khan continues unabated, however.
  • Christmas Episode: Starting from Series 2, the show has had annual Christmas specials.
    • In Series 2, Mrs. Khan declares that the family will be celebrating the Christian holiday (even though the Khans are Muslim) because it will probably be the last winter the family will be together and she wants to do something special. Of course, Mr. Khan goes and makes a mess of things.
    • The Series 3 Christmas Special was intended as a finale for a 3-series plan that Adil Ray had from the show's inception. Birmingham is preparing an interfaith Christmas ceremony and Mr. Khan is to have the honor of placing the star on top of the city's Christmas tree. Shazia goes into labor early, though, and the ensuing chain of events turns into a comedic retelling of the story of Jesus' birth.
    • Series 4 featured Mr. Khan scrambling to put together enough money to help Shazia and Amjad make a down payment on a house. Unlike most other episodes, this special had a major, albeit humorous, Downer Ending.
    • Series 5 had a retelling of It's a Wonderful Life based on what would have happened to Sparkhill had Mr. Khan not decided to stay 25 years prior.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Naani has one of Mr. Khan in her trunk.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Riaz sometimes shows flashes of this.
  • The Ditz: Amjad.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Mr. Malik wears a truly awful hairpiece and Mr. Khan struggles with Freudian slips when they're together.
  • Dom Com: The show abandoned the mosque setting after Series 2 and started focusing exclusively on Mr. Khan's home life. Neighbor Keith was made a regular supporting character now that the mosque's denizens are no longer around for Mr. Khan to boss around.
  • Funny Foreigner: Mr. Khan is viewed in this light by white British viewers — as a first-generation immigrant who makes frequent amusing cultural misunderstandings. His savvier children are alternately embarrassed and horrified.
    • Omar counts as an example to the Pakistani characters, being from Somalia. The main joke behind him is, that the characters react to his accent and stories of home, much the same way you would expect the English to react to the Pakistanis.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Discussed In-Universe. According to Mr. Khan, Pakistanis love British journalist Clare Balding because she "loves her sport, she's very healthy, and friends with Mo Farah". He admires her so much that he gives her a signed photo of her pride of place in the living room. One wonders what he might do if he realized that she's also a lesbian.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Mr. Khan is always getting himself caught up in these. He even abuses his wife's staff discount card at the local supermarket to stock up on baby diapers and sell them to local mothers at a profit after said store set up a quota system.
  • Gold Digger: Aunty Noor, Mrs. Khan's sister, becomes immediately interested in Keith when Mr. Khan lies and says that Keith is rich.
  • Hidden Depths: Mr. Khan can seem to be quite callous to those around him, not appearing to care about how his actions affect his loved ones as long as he can try and increase his standing in the community. But, unlike many sitcom husbands, he actually remembers romantic milestones he shares with his wife and even recreates the first meal they shared as a married couple on their anniversary without any of the usual last-minute panic.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mr. Khan's attempts to prove that he is a man of influence always come back to bite him on the backside.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The top of Mrs. Khan's head doesn't even reach Mr. Khan's shoulder and Adil Ray is slouched over when he plays Mr. Khan.
  • Hypocritical Humour: A recurring gag is Mr. Khan is very anti-immigration, despite being an immigrant himself (something he disagrees with on the grounds he's been in England for forty years).
  • Idiot Ball: Seems permanently attached to Mr. Khan's hand. He can't seem to shake it off, even when he means well. Mrs. Khan tries to keep him in line, but she occasionally picks it up as well whenever she tries to impress Amjad's mother.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ultimately the title character, who is callous and abrasive, but cares for his family.
  • Karma Houdini: Mrs. Malik is a snide character and looks down on the Khans for not being as well off as she is. She gets away with being nasty to everyone until she loses her temper in a police station and ends up getting arrested for striking the booking sergeant. Not even her husband does anything as she's being hauled away to a holding cell.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When Mr. Khan screws up immensely, he gets hit by this.
    • Mrs Khan's snobby rival Mrs Malik ends up at the end of this after her snobbish insistence on Amjad abandoning the 'lesser' Khan family causes her to go into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and end up being arrested for assaulting a police officer.
  • Last-Name Basis: Mr. Khan's first name is never revealed. The same can be said for Mrs. Khan, though a later episode visibly shows that the name badge she wears with her work uniform says Razia.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Mr. Khan always wears the same suit. It's revealed in Series 3 that it's the suit he wore when he married Mrs. Khan.
    • Mr. Khan wasn't always like that. Apparently, he was quite the dandy in his youth in Pakistan.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Dave from Series 1, who was nice and charitable to others regardless of religion. He was Not so Above It All from time to time, but still one of the nicest characters in the show.
    • Keith, the Khan's neighbor, who is unfailingly friendly and tries his best to learn and understand Pakistani and Muslim culture no matter how much Mr. Khan disparages him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: During Series 3's Christmas Special, Mr. Khan makes the family's Christmas chicken curry extra extra spicy because Amjad says that it tastes mild and he doesn't want to look unmanly in front of his son-in-law. Unfortunately, the result is so spicy that it induces early labor in Shazia.
  • No Name Given: Mr. Khan is always Mr. Khan. Even to his wife.
  • One-Steve Limit: Following a set of humorous misunderstandings, the police have to arrest Mr. Khan at an international cricket match at Edgebaston. All the arresting officers have to go on is that the arrestee is a Pakistani called Khan. Which at an international fixture involving the Pakistani side means the list of suspects is about ten thousand long. The man arrested - by another set of humorous misunderstandings — is the Citizen Khan who in Real Life had just been elected Mayor of London. The arresting coppers refuse to believe this. Meanwhile, a third set of humorous misunderstandings have our Citizen Khan mistaken for Real Life Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan...
  • The Scrooge: Mr. Khan. As well as being tightfisted in general, he also exploits the free photocopier in the Mosque's office and generally takes advantage of Keith's, his neighbor, good-naturedness, even stealing Keith's Christmas lights:
    Mr. Khan: Keith, have you changed your internet password?
    Keith: Yes I think so.
    Mr. Khan: Well, bloody well change it back again!
  • Sleeping Single: Mr. and Mrs. Khan sleep in separate twin beds with the implication that they're pushed together for special occasions.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Mr. Khan. He calls himself a community leader and frequently tries to bully his way into positions of influence. He usually ends up getting in trouble because of it since he has a tendency to run his mouth off and make promises that he has no way of keeping.
    Mr. Khan: "Mr. Khan! Community leader! They all know me!"
    • Because of this trope, Mr. Khan has a reputation around the community as someone to be avoided. An imam nearly bails on Shazia's wedding upon learning who her father is.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Series 1 had a red-headed mosque manager named Dave who converted to Islam later in life. In Series 2, he's replaced by a red-headed mosque manager named Dave who converted to Islam later in life. These are distinct characters, not an example of The Other Darrin. One suspects that the writers had Series 2 almost completed when Kris Marshall decided to leave and only added a few lines introducing Matthew Cottle's version of Dave into Series 2's first episode to avoid having to go back and make more extensive changes.
  • Too Much Information: When Mr. Khan tries to diplomatically probe to see if Shazia and Amjad are having any "marital issues", Amjad cheerfully tells him that they have no problems in that department and proceeds to talk about the voracious amounts of sex they're having before Mr. Khan can tell him to shut up.
  • Trademark Favourite Food: Naani and Mr. Khan are both very fond of custard creams, which is occasionally a source of tension between them. In one instance, Mr. Kahn is shown to hide them in his pockets to stop Naani from eating them.
  • Twerp Sweating:
    • Mr. Khan's been trying to run Amjad off for years but Amjad is too dim to realize that Mr. Khan doesn't particularly like him. Not that it matters, though, because Mrs. Khan loves Amjad and Mr. Khan is terrified of his wife.
    • Mr. Khan initially tried to be tough around Scabby, Alia's boyfriend in Series 4 and 5 but ends up being won over by the fact that Scabby is actually a nice boy with a genuine interest in Islam and Pakistan.
  • The Unfavorite: Shazia. She is the target of frequent criticism from her father even though she is the good girl of the family, with a decent job and preparing to get married. Mr. Khan's affections and money, instead, are heaped upon Alia, Shazia's sister, who's failed out of school, sneaks out at night, and only pays lip service to her religion and culture.
  • Verbal Tic: Mr. Khan loudly clears his throat whenever he lies. Sometimes Mrs. Khan might glare at him suspiciously, but no one ever directly calls him out over this tale.